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GUEST COLUMNIST: J.S Okutepa SAN

In any society where people don’t get justice from the institutions that are created to give justice there is always strives and insecurity. The legal profession is a profession that has the onerous responsibility to give justice to Nigerians and others within the territory of Nigeria. That is why section 6 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria created the judicature for adjudication. To attain these lofty goals of justice, the legal profession was established. The legal profession is made up of Bar and Bench. It is this profession that people look unto for justice. Many things seem to be wrong with the way we as members of the profession ditched out decisions or proffered opinions that don’t seem to take into accounts the need to do substantial justice. The other day a colleague told me justice is relative. I feared at that statement.
Justice is what is fair and just with undiluted purity. Anything than that is unjust and cannot be justice.
I am looking forward to the days when we as lawyers in Nigeria will decide to focus on attaining substantial justice than the current trends where the Bar and Bench have become jurisdictional experts without examining the merits of causes and matters in most cases.
We throw away evidence on many technical grounds. We refused to see injustice even when injustice stared us on the face. We ignored facts and issues on the basis of many archaic and anachronistic terms that do not promote justice according to common sense and logic. In all of these the society breeds insecurity and injustice.
We have become jurisdictional experts, with technical victories to the prejudices of fairness and equity.
While I agree that decisions are that jurisdiction is the blood and life whire of litigations and where courts lacked jurisdiction proceedings conducted thereby is a nullity, we need to be careful not to use this as instrument of injustice.Whether or not a court has jurisdiction is a matter of law and decisions of the judex.
We must do all we can to see that cases are heard and determined on the merit rather that being thrown out at infancy as we see these days.
When judgments are given we again as members of the legal profession are the ones at the forefront of frustrating the enforcement by resorting to many jurisdictional obstacles. I think the Bar and Bench must come together to fashion out how best we can attain good justice in Nigeria.

J.S Okutepa is a Nigerian Senior Lawyer
26th November 2020

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